A global pandemic is the type of resiliency test we plan for, but hope never occurs. We are happy to report that amidst the current difficulties, our compact, walkable, mixed-use, and multigenerational communities are not only faring well but are proving to be a source of comfort to their residents as they shelter in place.
The bonds of community—largely forged in those physically interactive and convivial third places we temporarily need to avoid—have resulted in a human infrastructure of support, and neighbors helping neighbors that is particularly useful to those most vulnerable. While social gathering spaces like community centers, plazas, playgrounds, and cafes take a pause, a second, less glamorous tier of neighborhood features are gaining newfound appreciation in keeping residents connected while at a safe distance.
- Live-work units – a popular fixture in many of our neighborhood centers and pioneered by DPZ as far back as Seaside, have re-introduced Americans to creative ways to integrate, yet separate, work space with residential space. They are perfect for remote working during times when “stay-at-home” regulations are essential for curbing the spread of a virus.
- Alleys & Pedestrian Paths –are practical alternate routes for exercising alone or efficiently dropping off food at that elderly neighbor’s house.
- Accessory Dwelling Units or Granny Flats—are welcome physical-distancing assets to protect a vulnerable relative or for quarantining an essential worker in the family.
- Well-connected, shaded, pedestrian-friendly streets – are the ideal amenity to take much needed walks around the block and stroll with the baby and/or the pets. And when too many neighbors are out, the streets easily transform into more ample, shared-space promenades.
- Meaningful open space networks—the mindful assemblages of open space in the form of larger parks and nature preserves are ideal for residents to refresh and stay active at appropriate “social distances”. Kentlands’s lakes and woodland paths were deliberately woven into the greater trail and greenways network. Whether for a vigorous bike ride or a pleasant walk, residents have a regional recreational system to access.
- The front porch, an iconic staple of DPZ towns, makes for a great way to socialize and people-watch from afar – porch or Zoom happy hours, which would you prefer? 🤔
At DPZ’s Middleton Hills and The Kentlands, two exemplary, lifelong communities, we are hearing about countless acts of neighborly interaction during this difficult time. Please read below to learn what some of our residents had to say about their experiences with each other and their surroundings:
Middleton Hills & COVID-19: Resident Testimonial | April 2020
A letter shared by Jane Grabowski-Miller, formerly with the development team at Erdman Holdings where she served as Town Architect, from a Middleton Hills resident:
The onset of the Coronavirus has given rise to our even deeper appreciation of our neighborhood, and I want to share that with you. Over the ten years we have lived here, we have grown quite close with our “alley neighbors” and we socialize regularly. John and I are the oldest, hence the grandparents of the group. It was no surprise that we have had regular contact from these friends in recent weeks offering food, volunteering to pick up groceries, and just generally checking to be sure we are okay.
Although our primary contacts have been via the alley behind us, our house faces Erdman Boulevard, the neighborhood’s “Main Street,” and before our trees leaf out we enjoy a nice view of the wetland area from our living room. It is hard to look out now without seeing folks out strolling on Erdman or enjoying the new boardwalk near the water. The trees have matured and we now host many birds and waterfowl, including a pair of Sandhill Cranes that return each year. As in other places these days, there is an organized effort to collectively entertain the kids with virtual scavenger hunts and other creative ideas so lots of sidewalk chalk in use.
Not a day goes by when we don’t feel fortunate to live here. Even in the midst of a pandemic the neighborhood seems to have lived up to its potential in so many significant respects. I know you were an integral part of making it a reality and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you.”
Kentlands & COVID-19: Resident Testimonials | April 2020
In response to a Homeowner Association survey about life during the lockdown, here are some highlights shared by Kentlands residents who had much to say:
“ My husband and I have lived here for 11 years… and there is no place I’d rather be during the Covid19 crisis. Our community is a wonderful mix of multiple generations… Every morning and afternoon we go for a long walk. We see families, young and old, riding bikes, skating, walking their dogs, admiring the beautiful landscape throughout the community. People have been very good about checking in on each other.
Our youngest son is a server at a family run community restaurant that cares about their employees. They actually have a group chat going to keep everyone from feeling isolated…I know that our community will get through this, it may take a while, but as bad as it is, we have the Kentlands.“
“ Personally, I have always believed that living in the Kentlands is nothing but a positive thing …so easy to just walk next door to a store and grab any item without hesitation… this community has always made me feel spoiled – there is nothing that I cannot do within walking distance; including work- since the office where I work is also conveniently located in the Kentlands.”
“Last spring I moved from my townhouse to a condo …I was eager to stay within the community… I am so glad that I made this move…I cannot begin to tell you about the sense of community in my building.
Shortly after I moved in I had emergency surgery on my knee due to an infection…The residents in my building were absolutely wonderful… brought in groceries…got my mail daily… took out my trash and recycling as needed… brought me food or materials to keep me busy…and many visited…we began to get to know each other…
This sprit has carried on to these times of social isolation. I have a compromised immune system and have not left the building for three weeks as of this writing. Once again, the spirit of this community is being manifested. There has been an effort to bring in groceries …and… a daily call from a Condo Board member to check on us to see if there is anything we need…even daily sanitizing of apartment door knobs, elevator buttons, the outside keypad, etc…
I believe the spirit of the Kentlands/Lakelands communities, nurtured by the New Urbanism precepts, fosters a community spirit that is exemplified by what I have experienced here.”
“ Our son, his wife and our two grandchildren …out for a walk, … texted us to go to our door. We went out and stood six feet from them on our porch, with them on the sidewalk, and chatted for 15 minutes. We have done this regularly since social distancing was initiated.
Our neighbors invited us to a BYO gathering…on the Kentlands Green for wine, snacks, and conversation, at a six foot safe distance from each other…Many of our local restaurants…offer takeout with either curbside or free delivery…
Our beautiful chain of intersecting lake paths offers easy access to nature and respite from cabin fever…
So many of us know and care about each other and watch out for each other. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. So far, everything we need is nearby, and we know and help and are helped by our neighbors.”
“Great opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate living in the Kentlands at this difficult time…I would never consider leaving.
What has been sustaining is the ability to walk around an area with so many varying views: the lakes, the streets with varied architecture, etc… am constantly delighted by the nooks and crannies of this area. I walk a different route each day and love the surprises I find! The people here are wonderful!”
“EVERY DAY we give thanks for living in Kentlands during this horrific time…we are so blessed and grateful to be living in the perfect neighborhood where we are very fortunate to be able to work from home.
Beauty and nature everywhere …We take daily walks or runs multiple times a day. … common areas, paths and alleys are fun to explore ..green spaces… creeks and lakes …alive with plants and animals…daffodils and crocuses …rabbits and turtles…
We notice more people sitting on porches … using their yards more these days… …We are getting to know neighbors we haven’t met before. More people are saying hi and chatting and smiling than ever before (from 6 feet or more of course)…
The Mansion, Clubhouse, and Arts Barn amenities are currently closed, but the large grounds around them are still beautiful and very useful for social distancing…
Shopping and restaurants…wonderful to have everything we need right here…and at a variety of price ranges …
Housing for older people …your parents can live right here…easy to check on them, bring food and supplies, and they can still get out for walks if able and still maintain the right distance….
We are grateful to grocery/restaurant workers, healthcare workers, delivery workers, first responders, and our government for everything they are doing to keep us safe and healthy.
And thank you for the wonderful design of this neighborhood!”